Disney goes back to the “Enchanted” well for “Godmothered,” a Jillian Bell comedy that casts her as a dizzy fairy godmother-in-training trying to make one little girl’s wish for a “happily ever after” come true.
Bell is in fine (PG) madcap form here. Isla Fisher plays that “little girl” who stopped believing in fairy godmothers not long after writing her “meet a cute boy” wish on a note. And June Squibb and Jane Curtin are almost amusing as the elder sisters in a sort of Hogwarts for wand-wishing pumpkins-to-carriage training school, “Motherland.”
But a script that scrimps on laughs — not enough zingers or pratfalls — and relies on sentiment to get by lets them down.
Bell, of “Brittany Runs a Marathon” and “Rough Night,” is Eleanor, youngest student at Motherland, where Curtin plays the head mistress and Squibb (“Nebraska”) the narrator/mentor and school DJ.
The school hasn’t had a “mission” for a fairy godmother in ages, and rumor has it if SOMEbody on Earth doesn’t believe and have her wish come true, they will close their doors and be retrained “as tooth fairies.” So klutzy Eleanor takes it on herself to grab a letter and fulfill its author’s fondest wish.
“Knock’em dead, kid,” co-conspirator Agnes (Squibb) says.
“Oh, if everything goes right, nobody’s gonna die!”
It turns out the letter writer, Mackenzie (Fisher) wrote that note decades ago. Now she’s a single mom and very jaded TV news producer who sees “fairy tale constructs” as teaching the dark lesson that “normal life is not enough.”
“Mac” can’t convince this whack-job to leave her be. A few inept waves of the magic wand later, Eleanor’s moved in and with a little help from Gary the enchanted raccoon, is out to change Mac’s life, and the lives of her tween Mia (Willa Skye) and stage-frightened teen Jane (Jillian Shea Spaeder).
Can she find love for Mackenzie, maybe that cute Hugh Prince reporter (Santiago Cabrera) at work?
The under-trained fairy godmother creates chaos in a pumpkin patch, wrecks the power grid and gets on TV and goes viral with a sledding accident.
Has Bell ever done a horror movie? The lady’s got a blood-curdling scream for the ages.
The Boston settings shine in this winter wonderland, the cute bits are somewhat cute, the flying and wand effects post-Potter polished and the soundtrack peppered with hits from Kool and the Gang, Nilsson, Steppenwolf and the Julie Andrews songbook, including a sweet sing-along in front one particular Boston landmark.
The brief glimpse of Motherland, where the rules about wishes and “true love” are covered, is blessedly brief. That’d be the perfect place for it to bog down in “myth making.” But the story proper is a letdown — recycled and drawn out.
What they were going here was a quick and cheap (ish) made-for-TV “Enchanted,” and that’s how this plays — light on the charm, far fewer laughs, heavy on effects. And blood-curdling screams.
MPA Rating: PG (beer)
Cast: Jillian Bell, Isla Fisher, June Squibb, Jane Curtin, Santiago Cabrera, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Jillian Shea Spaeder, Willa Skye
Credits: Directed by Sharon Maguire, script by Melissa K. Stack. A Disney+ release.
Running time: 1:49